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Heart and Circulation Problems in Pregnancy

In This Article:

Nosebleeds, gum problems, and varicose veins


Nosebleeds occur frequently in pregnancy, and although they are a nuisance they are rarely a serious problem.


As with all other blood vessels in the body, those in the nose are softened and expanded during pregnancy. In addition, your body has an increased blood volume in pregnancy, which puts pressure on these delicate structures. You are more likely to have a nosebleed if you have a cold or sinus infection or if your nasal membrane is dry, which can happen in cold weather or air conditioned rooms.

What to do

To manage a nosebleed, sit down, keep your head in a normal position, and apply pressure to the bottom of the nose with your thumb and forefinger. You will need to maintain this pressure constantly for about 10 minutes before checking to see if the bleeding has stopped. Do not be tempted to tip your head back or lie down, since this will cause you to swallow the blood, leading to nausea and possible vomiting. Ice or a cold compress applied to the nose and facial area in conjunction with the nasal pressure can help constrict the blood flow and halt the bleeding. Seek medical advice if the nosebleed results from a head injury or if heavy bleeding continues for more than 20 minutes. Mention frequent small nosebleeds at your prenatal appointment to enable the elimination of more serious conditions.

Bleeding, tender gums

Bleeding from the gums and gum tenderness are both common complaints during pregnancy.


These problems occur as a result of increased blood volume coupled with the softening effect of pregnancy hormones on blood vessels. Allowing plaque to accumulate may exacerbate these symptoms and also makes the start of gum disease more likely.

What to do

Good dental hygiene is vital; don't be tempted to avoid brushing your teeth if they feel tender, but switch to a softer brush. Brushing your teeth and gums and flossing regularly are particularly important during pregnancy. Also, visit your dentist regularly during pregnancy and the postpartum period.

Varicose veins and vulval varicosities

Varicose veins are enlarged, distorted veins that may develop in the legs or around the vulval area. Varicose veins in or around the anus are known as hemorrhoids. Varicose veins may become troublesome during the later stages of pregnancy, causing discomfort and sometimes itching; they may also be unsightly. Varicosities in the vagina or vulva areas do not inhibit a normal birth and are not at risk of rupture during the birth.


The increased blood flow and softened vessels mean that many women experience varicose veins and vulva varicosities during pregnancy. The growing uterus puts pressure on veins in the pelvis which, in turn, leads to increased pressure in the legs and vulva area.

What to do

Support hose designed for pregnancy can be helpful, Avoid tight clothes that constrict the waist, groin, or legs As with all conditions, varicose veins should be reported to your doctor for assessment and advice. Varicose veins usually improve within three months after the birth of the baby.

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Excerpted from Pregnancy Day by Day.
Copyright © 2008 Dorling Kindersley Limited.
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